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Contributed by By Nigel F.Maynard

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For more than 20 years, builders and architects were able to specify products with an Energy Star label designating that they used less energy than non-labeled items. That list included such items as clothes washers, dishwashers, and refrigerators, but clothes dryers were absent.

Recently, however, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that Energy Star-certified clothes dryers are now available nationwide through major retailers. The list of approved dryers include at least 45 models from such brands as Whirlpool, Maytag, Kenmore, LG, and Safemate.

“Dryers are one of the most common household appliances and the biggest energy users,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement announcing the new list. “EPA’s Energy Star certified clothes dryers offer Americans an opportunity to save energy and do their part to combat climate change. By working with industry, we are bringing innovative technology to market that’s good for the planet.”

According to EPA documents, clothes dryers consume more energy than any other appliance in the home. And though they are in 80 percent of U.S. homes, the energy efficiency of dryers has not improved. Meanwhile, clothes washers have seen a 70 percent drop in energy use since 1990.

“If all residential clothes dryers sold in the U.S. were Energy Star certified, Americans could save $1.5 billion each year in utility costs and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity use from more than 1.3 million homes,” the agency writes.

Though this development is welcome news to energy-conscious consumers and construction professionals, it’s hard to imagine that dryers had no designation before now, especially when you consider the simple “energy efficient” features manufacturers added to their new products.

“Two recent developments presented an opportunity for Energy Star in terms of highlighting more efficient clothes dryers,” an EPA spokeswoman says. “The first was the development of a new test procedure that factors in the real-world impacts that auto-termination has on energy use.

Dryers eligible for Energy Star designation must be at least 20 percent more efficient than standard dryers. One way manufacturers are meeting the requirements is by incorporating advanced sensors that more effectively detect when clothes are dry and stop the appliance.

The other innovation is heat pump technology, which results in units that are 40 percent more efficient than conventional models. “Heat pump dryers recapture the hot air used by the dryer and pump it back into the drum,” EPA says. “By re-using most of the heat, a heat pump dryer is more efficient and avoids the need for ducts.”

In either case, the result is the same: the availability of units that will help home buyers save money on their utility bills.

Energy Star certified dryers come in gas, electric, and compact models.

Nigel F. Maynard
Writer, Blogger, Product Guru



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